Volume > Issue > Letter to the Editor: February 2004

February 2004

Women Feeling One Another on The Way to Holy Communion

I’ve been going to Mass for twenty years since high school, and it’s one of the most annoying things I have to do all week. And it’s more annoying now than ever. I used to go to Mass during the week, but now I don’t do that anymore. I can’t stand it. I can barely sit through a weekend Mass.

I just can’t tolerate the lack of respect, and the sappy and corny Masses. I come home from these Masses feeling angry. I kick things around the house, I eat when I don’t need to, and I just feel crummy.

So I go to a Latin Mass when I can. Yes, it’s all in Latin, except the Gospel and sermon, so what do I get out of it? I get a lot more out of it than I do the new English Mass. Why? Because it’s beautiful. I leave feeling good — just plain good — like I actually went to Mass. I am present at a holy place, where there is reverence and beautiful music. It’s an incredible feeling.

Recently, I went to a Novus Ordo (new Mass) church in nearby Worcester. There were a few women who sat together, and they were talking. On the way to Holy Communion, they kept talking. So I gave them a look. Then I heard one woman say “peace be with you.” What? I’m trying to be at peace, but how can I?

I went to another new Mass church in Worcester, and on the way to Communion there were four women walking up the aisle next to me. One woman put her hands on the woman in front of her and started rubbing her shoulders. Another woman put her hands on the waist of the woman in front of her. I couldn’t believe it. Women feeling one another on the way to Communion. It was revolting.

Don’t think everyone likes these new Masses. Maybe that’s why so many people sit in the back, and come in late and leave early. People have to go to church. That’s all there is to it.

After all this aggravation, the priests and the bishops want money. No way! I’m not paying to get annoyed.


Principal, Central Catholic High School

Boylston, Massachusetts

Evangelization: Where's the Action?

You’re so right, Catholics don’t evangelize (“Why Don’t Catholics Evangelize?,” New Oxford Notes, Nov.). It seems every diocese has an office of evangelization; however, the result for the most part is meetings with lots of talk about the need to evangelize, and that’s it.

But actual evangelization is being done — quietly and efficiently in many parishes by an organization that exists in just about every country, and has over three million active members — by the Legion of Mary. The Legion started in Ireland in the early 1920s under the wings of Servant of God, Frank Duff, who may someday be declared a Doctor of the Church. The main work of the Legion is conversion — real evangelization by face-to-face contact going door-to-door, and by setting up literature displays on busy corners, in front of metro stops and DMVs, and at shopping centers to encourage passersby to stop and talk. The Legion of Mary is strong in the Arlington Diocese where it is supported by the many young Marian priests who see the Legion as an extension of and complement to their work.

Dennis Monroe

Arlington, Virginia


As a conservative Methodist, I want to thank you for your magazine. Change the reference from Catholic to Methodist and the names involved, and much of what you say applies to the Methodist Church.

It is frustrating when the opposition seems to have a louder voice and more money. Satan does seem to have all the good advertising space.

We are in this battle together. The issues you raise pertain to the very foundational doctrines of Christianity.

God does not work through a bland majority, but through a faithful remnant. Our job is to be a faithful remnant that God can use.

Ralph G. Powell

St. Francis, Minnesota

The appalling decline of the Catholic Church due to decades of incompetent management chills the blood. My small Methodist church here in Rowayton has in attendance at least one-third “former” Catholics — most with small children, such as my next-door neighbor.

The NOR has catalogued misconduct among the Catholic clergy and the irreverent behavior of parishioners at Mass. Such is lamentably matched by the loss of stern Methodist values.

Former teeny boppers, now 40-plus, have carried bad habits and assorted perversions into our churches with obvious results.

Lessons learned by our Catholic brethren will indeed be applicable to us Protestants.

Along with my Bible, the NOR is the most meaningful reading material I have.

H.B. Hubbell

Rowayton, Connecticut

Observation Skills — And Other Classes for Men

Ed. Note: In a December 2003 New Oxford Note (p. 8), we gave a list of politically incorrect “Classes for Women.” To be fair, we invited any female reader to send in similarly poignant “Classes for Men.” The following is from Michelle Farris of Reno, Nevada:

Time Management: The Relationship of Computer Games to Black Holes

– Fitness: Channel Surfing Doesn’t Count

– Adventure and Discovery: Locating Common Household Items in Your Own Home

– Observation Skills: A Paradigm Shift Out of Bachelorhood — Notice and Respond to the Needs of Those Around You

– What Women Want: The Romance of Reliability

– Success: The Manly Pursuit of Maturity

And the following is from April Manson of Kailua, Hawaii:

Gift-Wrapping for Dummies (Includes Tissue Paper, Gift Bag, and Tape Dispenser)

– Knickknack Appreciation: Noticing and Enjoying Knickknacks

– Food Safety and Control: Exposes the Dangers in Consuming a Large Pizza and a Six-Pack of Beer

– Smell Management: Household Fragrances Can Be Your Friend

– Refrigerator 101: Comprehensive Study on Where to Locate the Mustard, American Cheese, and Other Hard-to-Find Food Items

– Cheerful Spending: Writing Checks, Paying Bills, and Handing Money Over to a Cashier Without Grimacing or Experiencing Chest Pains

– Social Situation Survival Skills: You Will Learn How to Choose What to Wear, and Interact With Other Human Beings, Without Help or Stern Glares From Your Wife

– Advanced Survival Skills in Emergency Situations (Wife Is Not Home Due to Unforeseen Circumstances): You Can Get Off the Couch, Turn on the Light, and Make Yourself a Ham Sandwich [Refrigerator 101 is a prerequisite]

Florence, Montana

The Luminous Mysteries

I disagree with Donna Kruger in her letter, “Changing the Rosary Too?” (Dec.). I happen to like the Luminous Mysteries and think they complete the Rosary. Yes, I agree that the original 15 decades were given to St. Dominic by Our Lady directly from Heaven. Because of that, however, Kruger says that “no one should ever add to” the Rosary, even Pope John Paul II. But how do we know that the newest five haven’t been given to us through another saint, John Paul II?

Jennifer F. Ledford

Lompoc, California

He Knew About Abuse

Apropos of your discussion of Pope John Paul II’s legacy: I like this Pope. He’s seen nothing but sorrow all his life. But I also would like to know this: Since the Church has been in trouble both before and during his pontificate, why doesn’t he use his considerable power and influence to stop the rampant abuses? Or let’s put it this way: Why didn’t he stop the abuses when he was healthy and vigorous? He knew about them.

I’m a member of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, which is disobedient to the Holy See. For instance, consecrated virginity is not supported here. The Mass is said by many priests not according to the rubrics but according to their whims. And I am persecuted for wearing the traditional Dominican habit (not that it stops me).

The Pope has spoken out against such abuses, but he needs to do something! Or, he should have done something long ago.

Sr. Geraldine Marie Wagner, O.P.

Seattle, Washington

Theory 1 or Theory 2?

It is always interesting, and sometimes tragic, to see a people blinded by their “blind spots.” Mothers, for example, love their children. Consequently, one often reads where the mother of a convicted criminal seeks mercy for her son who “couldn’t possibly have done anything wrong.” An admirable trait in a mother, but a tragic fault in a magazine.

In his reply to Bill Foley’s letter (Oct.), the NOR Editor approvingly quotes Rod Dreher: “Why does such a great and good man [John Paul II]…. allow so many American bishops, nearly all of whom he has appointed, to eviscerate the liturgical, catechetical and pastoral life of the Church…?” A more accurate statement would be to delete the modifier “American” from the above.

John Paul has been in office since October 1978, over 25 years of Kingship. He has appointed well over 95 percent of all the ruling-class clergy throughout the world.

We have two possible theories to explain what has happened to Holy Mother Church since his election. (Just to be clear, what has happened is that the Church is in a death spiral of unprecedented proportions and, short of Divine Intervention, will splatter herself all over the earth in the not too distant future. And yes, there will be Divine Intervention.)

Theory 1: Without his knowledge and foresight, it just so happened that 90-plus percent of all his appointments were corrupt, deceitful, and incompetent.

Theory 2: With his knowledge, 90-plus percent of all his appointments were corrupt, deceitful, and incompetent.

I recognize that almost all readers of this magazine and other publications such as The Wanderer subscribe strongly to Theory 1.

But at least (as can be seen in the aforementioned Editor’s Reply) the NOR recognizes that something is dreadfully wrong.

My personal experience in life is that things happen in direct proportion to the power of the men that intend them. For example, President Bush intended that Saddam Hussein be overthrown and captured or killed.

As the Vicar of Christ on earth, the Pope enjoys substantially more authority over his ministers than any president ever holds over his. Additionally, the pope, regardless of who he is, enjoys very significant support in the spiritual domain. No other man on earth has such complete, absolute, and unquestioned power over the structure he rules.

And yet, according to Theory 1, he chose not to exercise any real independent or prudent power in the exercise of his authority.

In the corporate world, this relationship of the workers to the Ruler is called “Alignment.” For the success of any enterprise, it is necessary for the entire organization to be aligned — for all the people to work together to achieve a common goal.

It is my sad observation that in Holy Mother Church today, there is no significant alignment between the “Historical Church” and the “New Church” so much beloved by John Paul. The two “Assisi Events” were not an aberration, but rather a New Annunciation of the New Church so fondly pushed and proposed by John Paul.

The issue for the NOR is simple: Please clarify your support of Theory 1 (the deceived Pope) and your rejection of Theory 2 (the deceiving Pope).

Peter André

Naples, Florida


We subscribe to neither theory. It’s much more complex than either one. First, we do not believe that “90-plus percent” of John Paul’s appointments have been “corrupt, deceitful, and incompetent.” John Paul has appointed many holy, honest, and/or competent bishops — but not enough. Secondly, John Paul couldn’t possibly know the heart and soul of each bishop he’s appointed. He must rely on his staff — but he’s relied far too much on his staff. Some of his appointments — such as Cardinal Kasper and Cardinal O’Brien — have been big disappointments. Did he know what he was doing? Who knows?

One of our problems with John Paul’s legacy is that when his bishops have messed up badly, they have rarely been disciplined or, if necessary, sacked. Is John Paul too enamored with collegiality? Could be. But more importantly, John Paul has been a poor administrator. One reason for that is that he has so often been away from Rome traveling (102 foreign trips to date). He has been evangelizing and encouraging — and we strongly believe in evangelizing and encouraging. Yet one can wonder if this is his primary task, and therefore if he’s spent his time wisely. As The Catholic World Report staff stated in its December 2003 issue: “The enormous personal popularity that he has demonstrated during his apostolic voyages has not translated into higher rates of attendance at Mass in those countries after his departure; the charisma that has riveted millions of teenagers attending World Youth Day ceremonies has not led to a surge in vocations to the priesthood and religious life.”

John Paul has been, so to speak, an “all-star.” But you need more than an all-star to win games. You also need a solid team to win, and, sadly, there have been too few team-players on John Paul’s squad, for which he himself must bear at least some of the blame.

Our prayer is that the next pope will mind the store, will be a disciplinarian.

Mechanicville, New York

Why Kneelers When Nobody Kneels?

Shirley Amdisen’s letter (Dec.) about a Byzantine Catholic service is interesting, but leaves — as did the Editor’s reply — an unanswered question. She writes, “Although the church has kneelers, no one uses them.” She says this because standing is “the Eastern tradition.”

Hmm. I’d honestly like to know why, if the Eastern tradition is to never kneel, kneelers are provided.

William H. Soisson III

Elwood, Indiana

In the Footsteps of Arius

There abides within the memory of people who were among the faithful prior to Vatican II the pious practice of gentlemen tipping their hats and ladies making the Sign of the Cross as they passed in front of a Catholic church, the ringing of the Angelus Bell morning, noon, and evening to remind the faithful to stop what they were doing and recite the beautiful Angelus Prayer, and the reverence of the faithful approaching the Communion rail to kneel in humble spirit and contrite heart to receive the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ from the anointed hands of a priest. All these are still capable of providing a vivid impression in the minds of the faithful.

Unfortunately, these pious and reverent practices have in most cases been ignored and abandoned under the influence of the many bishops and priests who have for forty years neglected to faithfully instruct their flocks in the Faith of the Fathers. The people have been desensitized and deformed. No longer are heard sermons on sin and its consequence of eternal damnation in the fires of Hell. Instead we hear people-pleasing homilies.

These successful efforts to desensitize and deform the faithful have led to a cataclysmic decline in reverence for the Holy Eucharist. The removal of altar rails, the discouraging of kneeling to receive Holy Communion, and reception of Communion in the hand are among the most abusive of means used to achieve this end.

The reason often heard for the changes in the liturgy is that they were mandated by Vatican II. In the 16 documents of Vatican II there is no mandate to remove altar rails or statues, stand for Communion, or receive Communion in the hand. These novelties come from bishops or from pastors with the acquiescence of bishops.

Communion in the hand was promoted by the arch-heretic Arius. He and like-minded bishops denied the divinity of Christ and used Communion in the hand as a sign of their disbelief. Communion in the hand was condemned as an abuse at the Synod of Rouen in 650 A.D. It was reintroduced into “Christian” worship as a result of the Protestant revolution in the 16th century. The Protestants denied then, as they do now, the dogma of Transubstantiation. With the decline of piety and reverence, the enemies of Christ and His Church have been more effective from within than they ever were from without.

Howard H. Reilly

Rockville, Maryland

Compelled Community — Or Is It Confused Division?

Change, change, change! And there have been many since Vatican II, from architecture to posture, and now more are befalling us. Many arrived without fanfare and may have gone unnoticed, such as: church nave now called gathering space, baptistery to immersion pool, entrance hymn to gathering song, altar boys (girls) to altar servers, parishioners to assembly, and Ghost to Spirit.

In many churches and even cathedrals, pews, statues, and crosses were removed, and Tabernacles were moved to side chapels. Many choir lofts stand empty, but guitar players and entertainers are up in the front of the church. Confessionals, if still around, are rarely used. Many of the glorious altars with gold Tabernacles are no longer the center for the Mass, having been replaced by tables. And apparently the requirement of being in the state of grace to receive Holy Communion has also been removed as we are now being told that the entire “assembly” is to stand and then receive in procession from the back to the front. Then we are to remain standing until all have received and the priest-celebrant returns to his chair.

We are told that the Mass is not the prayer of individuals coming together, but the action of a praying community, and uniformity in bodily gestures and postures is a sign of unity. But where is the uniformity when the norm in the U.S. is to kneel during the Eucharistic Prayer, yet in some parishes the people are required to stand; or when the Vatican says we can stand or kneel to receive Communion; or we may choose to receive under one or both species, or receive on the hand or tongue?

No doubt the Church will survive this period of compelled community — or is it confused division? She has survived other such tragic periods in her history. That is what Christ promised.

I recently attended a First Communion Mass, and amid the clamor of loud talking, altar girls in platform shoes, complete disorder in the program, and irreverence in general, I looked up at their most unusual crucifix. On this cross, Jesus was looking upward, and I sensed that I could hear His prayer as recorded by St. Luke, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

Maurice Fettig

San Antonio, Texas

A Boycott?

Considering that (1) Catholics are bound to support a prolife ethic, (2) a consistent prolife ethic would include opposition to abortion, capital punishment, human cloning, and military action not qualifying as just war, and (3) there are some sixty million Catholics in the U.S. constituting about a quarter of the electorate, why then is it that not one likely presidential candidate supports a consistently prolife platform?

If this remains the case, are not Catholics conscience-bound to boycott the 2004 presidential elections?

Andrew Sorokowski

Norwich, Connecticut

Oakland Is Not San Antonio

I regret that Charles James and his family have found Catholic elementary schools in the Diocese of Oakland under then-Bishop John Cummins to be re-hashed Protestant mainline education with only a Roman veneer (article, Dec.). What disturbs me is that your readers may consider his experience to be expected all across the country.

As a Catholic high school principal, I can affirm that students do not learn the whole of the faith in Catholic elementary school, but who has? Our local schools send us students who are pretty well grounded in Catholic doctrine, who have a reasonably good understanding of the Sacraments, who know some Scripture, can participate at Mass, and know most of the common prayers Catholics should know. Here at Central Catholic High School in San Antonio, I believe that we do a very good job of helping them mature in that faith, and I think the other Catholic high schools around here would say the same.

I know that to be true because we have several families in our school whose devotion to the Catholic faith is unquestioned, who keep tabs on their sons’ progress, and who are highly critical “consumers” of our “product.” If there is a problem, they let me know about it instantly. There have been, as we say in Texas, “durn few” problems under my principalship. The Catholic faith is taught and respected throughout our school. If anyone would like to arrange a tour, just give us a call at 210-225-6794.

W. Patrick Cunningham

Richmond, California

I Could Have Written The Article Myself

I received the December issue and read with interest the two articles on Catholic education. Jason Adams’s article entitled “Raising Religious & Moral Standards for Catholic High School Students” hit home. I could have written the article myself, being a 20-year veteran Catholic high-school theology teacher. I can attest to the veracity of the content of his article.

From my vantage point in the trenches, I will suggest some factors that shape the tone and content of theology in Catholic high schools. These factors include the administration, the Catholic identity of the school, and textbooks, though not necessarily in that order.

First, the administration’s attitude toward the teaching of orthodox Catholic faith will make or break the Theology Department’s effort to instill the knowledge of and love for the truths of the Catholic faith to our youth.

Second, modern advertising strategies for “marketing” Catholic high schools — whose enrollment has declined — now advocate the suppression of the “Catholic identity” of the school. Photographs and statistics concentrate only on academics, athletics, college admission rates, and extra-curricular activities in order to attract prospective students. It seems the strongest asset of Catholic high schools — their Catholicism — is now considered a significant liability. Many parents seem to be more concerned with whether their children will get into the right college rather than if they become better Catholics.

Third, the selection of textbooks is critical to ensuring the integrity of what is taught in theology classes. Most of the textbooks I have reviewed over the years are weak in doctrine, if not bordering on dissent in matters of faith and morals.

Research data now available indicate that many Catholic college students no longer practice their faith by the time they enter college. Since many Catholic college students come from Catholic secondary schools, I maintain there’s a connection between the lack of love for the truths of the Catholic faith at the collegiate level and what is or is not being taught in Catholic high school theology classes.

Parents need to be reminded that they are the primary teachers of the Catholic faith to their children. Good high school theology teachers provide reinforcement, depth, and enrichment for what has already been taught at home by the parents. The student’s approach to the study of theology is significantly more positive when he comes from a home where weekly attendance at Sunday Mass is the norm, the Sacrament of Penance is regularly received, family prayers are the rule, and he can articulate the basic beliefs of the Catholic faith without hesitation or apology.

Perhaps it is time for the bishops to require principals of Catholic high schools and teachers of theology to sign a mandate to uphold and faithfully teach the truths of the Catholic faith in the classroom with confidence and competence.

Elizabeth J. Sikorksi

Yachats, Oregon

"Six Days" Are Not "13 Billion Years"

I could not let certain statements made by Dermott Mullan (letter, Dec.) go unchallenged. He finds a conflict between the meaning of “day” as used in Genesis 1 and its use in the expression “in the day that” in Genesis 2, and therefore concludes that “day” is not meant to be a 24-hour day in either one. In fact, “in the day that” is a common Hebrew idiom meaning simply “when” and should not be misconstrued. However, “one day” is not a Hebrew idiom for “one eon,” and “six days” is not an idiom meaning “13 billion years.” When the word “day” is counted or placed with ordinal numbers (“second day,” “third day”), it always has its ordinary 24-hour sense. There is no linguistic justification for interpreting the days in Genesis 1 differently from days elsewhere in the Bible. The plain sense of the text is that God created the world in six ordinary days. Note also that the seven-day week is explicitly tied to the seven days of creation: “Six days shalt thou labour, and shalt do all thy works…for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and the sea, and all things that are in them, and rested on the seventh day” (Exod. 20:9-11). It doesn’t make any sense to read this as “six days shalt thou labour…for in 13 billion years the Lord made heaven and earth.”

There’s also the matter of the alleged “continuous creation” of human souls. It is a dogma that each human soul is individually created by God, but nothing is said about this creation being continuous — i.e., extending through time or space. I suppose we tend to imagine God creating each human soul when its body is conceived, as if He has to wait for the right moment before creating a particular soul. As an alternative, we (falsely) imagine Him creating a whole bunch of souls all at once, then waiting until a conception occurs to plant one in a body. The first view is probably just as false as the second, and for the same reason — both make the mistake of thinking God exists in time as we do, and that spirits and spiritual souls exist in time and space the way bodies do. I really don’t think we can justify the continuous creation of the physical universe by appealing to the individual creation of spiritual souls.

What would happen if Catholic scientists, instead of asking how the inspired Word of God can be squeezed or stretched to suit the latest scientific theories, would start asking how the latest observed phenomena are to be understood in the light of God’s revelation? Adam and Eve were created mature, and presumably so were the trees, animals, birds, and fishes. So why shouldn’t the sun, moon, and stars have been created mature, and therefore appear much older than they really are?

Sue Rattray

Franklin, Tennessee

From the Beginning

I was a charter member of the Anglo-Catholic American Church Union, whence came the ACU News, then The American Church News, and then (in 1977) the NEW OXFORD REVIEW, which became Roman Catholic in 1983. Myself, I became a Roman Catholic in 1971, and I have never regretted that decision. Nonetheless, I have never stopped thanking God for those years as an Anglo-Catholic (in the Episcopalian Diocese of Long Island, then an Anglo-Catholic diocese led by Bishop De Wolfe). It was there that I learned to know and love our Lord, His Mother, and the Church — and how to worship. Sadly, I have no reason to believe that I would ever have learned that as a Roman Catholic. Enclosed is my donation.

Mrs. Henry J. Sava

Not Just Loners

A friend of mine gave me my first “used” copy of the NOR about two years ago, and since then it was as though a weight had been lifted from my shoulders as I found that my friend, myself, and others in our parish are not just “loners,” but part of a much larger group of believers in the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. So thank you for the NOR!

Steve Bramlage

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